Northwestern Doctor Awarded ATS Foundation/Boehringer Ingelheim Fellowship for IPF Research

Ana Pena, PhD avatar

by Ana Pena, PhD |

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IPF research grant

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) Foundation and Boehringer Ingelheim have awarded a physician scientist at Northwestern University this year’s research grant in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Paul Andrew Reyfman, MD, was the recipient of the $100,000 fellowship, which will help fund his project, “Single Cell Transcriptomic Analysis of Pulmonary Fibrosis.”

Ganesh Raghu, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Washington and director of the Center for Interstitial Lung Diseases (ILD), called the award “well-deserved” in an ATS press release, adding, “I look forward to the results of this research that will hopefully lead to molecular means to diagnose early on, as well as studies that will predict prognosis and outcomes for patients with IPF and fibrotic lung diseases.”

While several clinical trials over the past 25 years significantly advanced the clinical management of IPF, there is still a strong need for treatments that can stop the disease from progressing, and provide meaningful improvements to patients — namely in regard to increasing their ability to function, relieving symptoms, improving quality of life, and prolonging survival.

Such improvements “can only be accomplished by collective efforts of all concerned with continued research,” Raghu said.

Reyfman and his colleagues published an article in 2018 titled “Single-Cell Transcriptomic Analysis of Human Lung Provides Insights into the Pathobiology of Pulmonary Fibrosis,” in which the team performed single-cell RNA sequencing on lung tissue obtained from patients with pulmonary fibrosis. The study’s goal was to obtain a “single cell atlas of pulmonary fibrosis,” they wrote.

The study showed that changes occur within individual cell populations during pulmonary fibrosis that are important for disease development and progression. According to the team, the results supported “the feasibility of discovery-based approaches using next generation sequencing technologies to identify signaling pathways for targeting in the development of personalized therapies for patients with pulmonary fibrosis.”

The ATS Foundation/Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Research Fellowship given to Reyfman will help advance this project.

“We are proud to support ATS on this unique award to advance innovative technologies that will lead to more accurate diagnoses and better predictions of treatment response,” said Craig Conoscenti, MD, medical expert at Boehringer Ingelheim. “This research award builds on our 100-year heritage in respiratory disease and offers another opportunity for our company to continue to improve care for those living with IPF.”

IPF is a rare and serious lung disease marked by severe scarring of the lungs. According to ATS, it is estimated to affect as many as 132,000 Americans, mostly men older than 65.